There is a Latin maxim that addresses worship in the life, identity and mission of the Catholic Church; “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi”. The phrase literally means the law of prayer (“the way we worship”), and the law of belief (“what we believe”). It is sometimes written as, “lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi”, further deepening the implications of this truth – how we worship reflects and guards what we believe and determines how we will live our lives.
As Catholic Christians, how we worship not only reveals and guards what we believe but guides us in how we live our Christian faith and fulfill our Christian mission in the world. Liturgical Worship is not an “add on”. It is the foundation of our Catholic identity; expressing our highest purpose. Worship reveals what we truly believe and how we view ourselves in relationship to God, one another and the world into which we are sent to carry forward the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ.
On April 15, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Bishops of Brazil in Rome. Toward the end of his remarks he summarized the heart of good Liturgy, “Worship cannot come from our imagination: that would be a cry in the darkness or mere self-affirmation. True liturgy supposes that God responds and shows us how we can adore Him. The Church lives in His presence – and its reason for being and existing is to expand His presence in the world.”
At St. Stephen, Martyr, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the Center of our Life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), citing the Second Vatican Council and the early fathers of the Church reminds us of the centrality of the Eucharist and the Mass in these words: “The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”
“The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.”
“Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all. In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.” (CCC. Par. 1324- 1327)